How do you respond when the bottom drops out of your topline? A client of mine didn’t need a global economic crisis to ruin his day. Almost two years ago, his company experienced a 25% drop in revenues with one disaffected big customer. Such a crisis might fill many business executives with anger and fear. In contrast, following the “crash,” our conversation focused on “How can we make this an opportunity for future success?” Clearly having so much business centered in one customer had been dangerous. What did he and his leadership team do? Within four months, they merged two businesses into one. Over the last 18 months, they have retooled the sales force and centralized most field functions. Their business is re-emerging and their leadership and top talent are far stronger.

What made the difference? This executive got very clear—clear about new outcomes, process, and people. He made deliberate, tough decisions quickly, in part because he saw that they were needed to reach that clear picture of success. He made his own leadership changes, seeing that he too had to step up. He also felt and showed real commitment to the team that surrounded him. He extended the loyalty already banked on his team.

What systemic change or challenge do you face that requires extreme clarity, personal leadership, and execution?